Criminal Law - I've been Arrested
Situations can go wrong
and sometimes the police will need to get involved. This may mean that you are placed under arrest. This can happen even when you are not guilty of an offence. If the police have the suspicion that you have committed an offence you can be arrested. When this happens, there are things you should know that can help, regardless of your guilt, and lessen the stress and potentially the penalty of being arrested.
The police are required to tell you when you are being placed under arrest and remind you that it is within your rights to not say anything. If you are being placed under arrest, it is imperative that you cooperate with police. If you do anything that could be interpreted as resisting arrest, you can be charged with this additional offence. The resisting arrest charge can be imposed regardless of your guilt of the initial offence. If you resist in a violent manner than you could possibly be charged with assaulting a police officer, which can carry a jail sentence. An arresting officer is only permitted to use reasonable force to detain you, so the more cooperative you are the less like the use of force is. You will also most likely be photographed and have your fingerprints taken.
Searching and Questioning
If the police have reasonable suspicion that you are carrying something illegal, such as dangerous items, drugs or stolen goods, they are permitted to search you. Despite what you may see on TV, they don’t need a warrant. If you are being held, police can question you. Without a solicitor present, other than providing personal details (name, date of birth and address), you aren’t required to answer any questions.
Better Get a Lawyer
You might think that asking for a lawyer will look like an admission of guilt. This is hardly the case. Having a solicitor present is your right when you are arrested. You should ask for the option to contact one (in a civil manner) as soon as possible. Having a solicitor, who understands the process, present during any questioning can only benefit you and potentially expedite the outcome.
How Long Are You in For?
The maximum period that police can hold you without charging you is four hours. An additional eight hours can be added to this if police obtain a warrant. After this period, you can no longer be held without being charged. If you are not charged police must release you. If you are charged you can be released on bail. Bail applications are best lodged early in the process and it’s helpful to have a solicitor advise on the application.
Can’t Afford a Lawyer?
You may be eligible for legal aid. You can apply to the Legal Aid Commission (LAC) and if they give you a grant, some or all of your legal fees will be paid. You must meet specific criteria for LAC to give you the grant, based on financial means. You can nominate specific lawyers to represent you if you are awarded the grant.
Being arrested can be a stressful and even traumatic experience.
If you cooperate with police, and are aware of your rights the process can be quicker and easier. Having legal representation can help the situation even more, with criminal law solicitors knowing the processes and pitfalls of being arrested. If you have been arrested or have a family or loved one who has been then contact us at CM Lawyers. Somebody from our criminal law team can help you through the experience.